Spoilers: Up to Chapter 114
Disclaimer: Characters, dialogue, and situation belong to CLAMP.
Dedication: For my late father-in-law, because i wish i could talk to him in dreams like Watanuki does with Haruka.
I never would have noticed how peaceful the temple grounds were if it hadn't been a dream. The wind ruffles through the leaves; full moon fat and suspended in a glowing sky, casting an iridescent light over the majestic building. It's beautiful here, like it's beautiful at Yuuko's; in the middle of the town, but yet it feels like there's nothing but air and green and water and stone for miles. The shop's got an excuse – it sits between dimensions – but your temple is just that serene. If it had been under any other circumstances, Doumeki, if you'd have been there, I'd be trying to strangled you, I'd be so focused on not letting you get the best of me, that I never would've noticed – I think I missed that I… I could feel safe here.
"It's a nice moon, isn't it?"
That rumbled baritone would've startled me at any other time in any other place, but because I saw the owner of that uncanny voice was, well, the mirror image of you, Doumeki, it didn't bother me at all. And I certainly don't want to think into it any more than that.
But I'll admit I thought it was you at first, but I picked up enough the first time I met your grandfather to discern the difference: his eyes a darker shade of gold, his nose doesn't have that slight crook to it, and of course, his arms and hands aren't littered with the scars of saving me. Now I know I've been spending too much time with you, to have noticed these things.
"Doumeki… or not. You're his grandfather, right?" He wears a yukata just as well as you do, Doumeki. Or should I say kimono?
He smiles wide when I correct myself, and the connection nearly breaks; when have I ever seen you smile like that? It looks so natural on your grandfather's face I almost can't believe that you're related. Almost.
When he offers to wake you up, I panick a little. I don't have business here, I don't, I don't, I don't. Not now, not in this sweetly nostalgic setting. I couldn't handle it. How could I tell your grandfather that I was simply there because I… had wanted to get your skewed opinion?
There. I said it, Doumeki. Thank god you're not really here, and that this is a dream. Take that, cross–dresser.
But the very fact I'm here worries me. Surely your grandfather isn't imposing himself into my dreams just to get to know me. Does he know me from my supposed fame in the spirit world or… because of something else?
Definitely don't let that thought get any further.
"No, it's all right! It's nothing important."
His left eyebrow arches slightly, and it's unnerving. "If it wasn't important, you wouldn't have come here like this. If you can't tell Shizuka, how about talking to me?"
Please, please, please tell me I'm not that transparent to you, too, Doumeki. It's annoying enough my privacy's breached because of the whole eye–spider thing.
But surprisingly enough, I want to talk to him. I know he's not you, but you trusted him. Hell, half the wise things out of your mouth were stated by him in the first place. But still… "To grandfather?" I hardly even remember my own father. But grandfather?
Oh, no, my manners…
I'm thrown for a loop. Does he know because of Yuuko or… am I not the only one that talks to him, even if he can't reply to you with words?
Again, he smiles, and I feel a pang, just like when the spirit–woman told me she was lonely, just like every time I see Kohane–chan, and I can't help but… Stop, now! No further! What is it about this dream that makes it harder to control my wandering thoughts?
"Call me by my given name." A privilege I'm afraid to take with you, but one I'll accept with your grandfather. Will my dreaming brain make sense now, please?
And words are spilling out of my mouth, coaxed by Haruka–san's thoughtful silence, and I tell him everything: how Yuuko says Himawari–chan's not my goddess of good luck, how her and I linked pinkies and then we found that corpse, how the only time things don't seem to go terribly wrong around her is when you're there. I carefully forget to mention how frustrating that last bit is.
"Watanuki–kun… What do you think of her?" Haruka–san's smoke drifts into the sky, becoming a ribbon of moonlight. He's guiding me to admit conclusions I already know, that's easy to see, unlike you, who merely confronts me with them. Yet you both read me like the simplest of things, don't you – a child's rhyme, graffiti on an overpass, an advertising billboard. He looks at me through those darkened amber eyes, a knowing glance from the corners, and I know I'm being deciphered, my layers breaking apart under the piercing brand of it, just like every day with you.
"She's kind… and nice…" And the cutest person I've ever known, not to mention just plain bad luck.
I should've known he'd point out the obvious, the undeniable. I know there are no coincidences anymore; I know Himawari–chan's not good for me to be around, just like I know it's not you standing in front of me. Why is it so easy to talk to your grandfather, but so hard to say the things that are weighing on my mind when it's you?
Your grandfather – Haruka–san – he's a well of wisdom. But I already knew that, Doumeki – what I didn't understand was that you missed him for so much more than that. He's open, warm, so easy to trust – that's what your missing, isn't it? This guidance he's showing me, by telling me that there's meaning even in wondering why. You trusted him, never questioned him, admired him – and that's not something that comes easily to you, is it?
Another one of those thoughts slips into my mind – I trust you had good reason to trust him. And that's why conversing with your long–passed grandfather feels so comfortable. Because… I trust you. Damn you, Doumeki. Damn you.
So when he tells me to take the balloon with me tomorrow – I don't think about how silly I'll look, I don't wonder what I'm supposed to do with it, I don't question why I'd need to carry it with me – I just know that I'll do it. And I don't doubt that I'll see Haruka–san again, in another dream, just like he tells me.
My heart aches when I wake, so bad I don't move. I never thought I'd feel this way about you, Doumeki; lost spirits, lonely souls, sure. But you're dumb and infuriating and impossibly right, but it never occurred to me that you could be vulnerable, as well. You hide it near–perfectly, trapped underneath your layers. But through those barriers, I can spy that one defenseless spot: you've been altered into a man you've otherwise wouldn't have been – you're darker and controlled and not nearly as warm as you have the potential to be, tempered by the loss of the greatest mentor you never got enough time with. You're still hurting, and you cling to the little bit you have because it's the last defining thing you know.
I guess that's something we both understand, huh? Definition by memories?
Haruka–san is my friend, I know –and it's not because of who I am, Doumeki – its clear now that it's because of you. Because your grandfather cares for you. He's halfway between you and me: seer and exorcist, kind and unyielding, indecipherable and open. I look at your grandfather and I see the man you should've been. But you're not him, and I'm glad of it in some way, because then you wouldn't be… mine. The Doumeki I know, the self–assured, distant, unbreakable bastard that I need. I'm scared, just like you, because I have that hold over you; trust me, I don't want it either. But it's a trade–off, isn't it? A little bit of me for a little bit of you? And the more I think about it, the more I realize you must know that; there must be a reason you try to keep it that way. Are you all right with that? Knowing my presence created another weak spot for you, another crack in that barrier? Do you trust me that much?
I'll just have to trust in you, Doumeki. What else can I do? When it comes down to it, that's not hard at all.
But it still strikes me as I stare at my ceiling that I want to see you as Haruka–san was: I need to know that you can smile, laugh, have an unprotected moment, that you're capable of sharing what's underneath. Or at least mended enough to let your guard down, even though it frightens you. It hurts to realize that it may never happen; that you might be irreparable.
But… I think I'm waking up to you, Doumeki Shizuka.